How do you follow a story that’s set like a puzzle? How do you summarize a story that you still are thinking about and wondering if what you think you read was, what actually happened? “Everything Under” is a story about a young woman, Gretel, who is looking for her estranged mother.
The story jumps from year to year and is told from a first and third person. I have never felt so lost reading a book where I didn’t want to put the book down. It took me about a quarter way through before the pieces of the puzzle started to fit and I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I don’t annotate my books because my handwriting is complete shit, but if I had nice handwriting I would have filled the pages because Johnson’s writing is stunning; her fixation on words is unrelenting and the imagery she employs is mesmerizing.
‘Everything Under’ is a murky magical novel that offers a fascinating mélange of ideas on subcultures, gender fluidity, fate and free will, and so much more. I loved how much Johnson focused on language and the power it holds. I know at times its hard to follow, but I promise once the haze starts to rise you will be stunned at how this story plays out. I have already read this book twice and I plan on reading it a third time this week because there is just so much to unpack.